Happy New Year - ask yourself the right questions

6 minute read

2021 has been a strange year in many ways. The world was close getting back to normal, but now it seems big again and challenges lie ahead of us before normality.

Personally, me and my family have been very privileged not having the disease close to us (yet) or facing a huge effect on our lives as well. So, we really can’t complain in the big picture.

We are still enjoying our cultural experience in the Gulf and work wise we won the UAE championship with Al Jazira Club, so a massive year football wise. Also our football strategic book ‘How hard can it be’? has won its international reputation and is now used in both universities and clubs as curriculum across the globe. This makes us very proud.

A new year is ahead of us and a fresh year also opens up for new ideas and possibilities. I have done a piece on how to approach this. It is mostly about getting to know yourself, what’s meaningful for you and with which tools that can show a direction in your life:

What’s your motivation? What’s your drive? And which experiences in your career do you remember in particular as meaningful? These questions can guide you towards your’e true inner drive and in time higher your performances and create a more sustainable career.

A new year is time for reflection, evaluation, and new thoughts for the coming 365 days. A new year equals a new calendar start and the opportunity to improve ourselves compared to last year.

A lot of experts write about listing targets/goals in order to achieve them and target/goal theories are still the most classic and common tools used in motivating people in contemporary business – despite the fact that it’s outdated - for some archetypes.

For some groups of people listing specific targets/goals can be a useful tool to maintain focus and to push them out of their comfort zone, but in my opinion it’s too simplified to believe that one strategy can cover the variety of archetypes in society and thereby motivate every single type of person.

Goals are not (always) meaningful
I have together with researcher in motivation & leadership, Helle Hein, done a field study in motivation in sports to find empiricism and reinvent the historically simpleminded motivation theories. Our book was published in May 2017 in Danish (Når talent forpligter) based of Helle Heins years of empirical work.

What we discovered was a misunderstanding by leaders & coaches in relation to a group of athletes and their inner drive. These athletes are examples of people not motivated by writing down specific goals. Being given a big bonus if they win a match does not motivate them. For them it’s meaningless if they invest all their life and time in simple outcome like this. For them it’s about making a difference lifting their sport to a new dimension creating something bigger than themselves.

These athletes represent a certain archetype and a coach or a leader need to be unbiased leading this group of people - not only follow the basic motivation theory assuming it’s sufficient. If you wish to find people’s inner drive – you must show a true interest in your employees and help guiding them correctly by understanding them completely.

Goals can be a necessary direction
My daily motivation is to make a difference. To lift the people I work with, help and guide my employees, colleagues and players (in football) to reach a new level and to try making football a greater sport.

This is why I get up in the morning and am willing to “work” every day for long hours.

It’s a privilege not only to have discovered what I characterize as my “inner drive” but also being able to do exactly what I’m motivated doing. A result of this inner drive is that I don’t consider myself as an employee. I don’t even consider myself ever “working”.

Goals/targets can be useful for an archetype like myself if I use them as pointers. I have a folder on my Mac; I call “Future targets & pointers”. Inside are a few documents where I can write down my thoughts and “lessons learned”. Through this structure I can guide myself towards future targets and a overall vision for my life. But it’s not a classic use of listing goals/targets as it isn’t very specific and it does not get me up in the morning. I use it as a structure – not as a motivational tool.

I’ve tried to walk out from a job interview because the boss had no clue whom he was hiring. He proudly introduced the company bonus system, telling me how much money I could potentially earn if I worked hard and did a good job. It clearly came as a surprise to him when I told him that the amount and quality of my work wasn’t based on a bonus.

This interview was a “conflict of archetypes”. The boss was clearly motivated by writing down his goals and achieving bonuses – I’m not!

In this matter; it’s important to say that there’s no right or wrong motivation. No one is better or worse. But it’s crucial that we search to find each other’s inner drive to gain the best possible outcome - for the individual and for the employee/company.

For some archetypes targets are useful
A group of students from Yale University, USA, was in a 1953-survey asked about their target/goal setting and how they planned their future. Only 3 % of the group had a specific goal for the future. The same group was 20 years later examined again and the 3 % with the specific targets had among them a bigger amount of money than the 97 % without a target.

The power and key in listing targets is to have something specific to navigate by. To have a clear direction and a target to achieve.

If you are motivated by having specific targets/goals it’s crucial to learn to work with this kind motivation theory and use it every day, week, month, year, etc.

If goals/targets motivate you
You need only one thing to get started. 100 % focus, a quiet room, and you need to be ready to dream - the sky is the limit - no but’s!

  • First write down your biggest dream. Everything is possible – open your mind
  • Now write down your dream day from the morning to the evening. Again - everything is possible! Describe your senses, so you can feel, taste and smell your dream
  • Then we move to the “Question-phase”: How will you get there? Which person do you need to be to get there?
  • Now make a 5-year plan, a 2-year plan, a one-year plan, and a plan for the next month - again be specific
  • Write down all the reasons why your goal is realistic - be specific
  • Write down all the problems reaching the goal (also called the “Iceberg-phase”)

It is very important to be honest, so you know this will be difficult and maybe you need to give something up to reach the goal. If you lie to your brain - the goal is dead even before we got started.

This phase is called the “Phase of changing”. We need to understand to reach a new goal - we need to change and do something different to reach it.

  • Hang your dream up over your bed/fridge, so it’s always visible to you
  • Do an evaluation from time to time to make sure you’re on track

Potentially find a role model who has reached this goal and try to learn and get inspiration from this person.

But it all begins with the simple questions; What’s your motivation? What’s your drive? And which experiences in your career do you remember in particular as meaningful? Spent time to reflect and find the correct answers before moving on.

Following this path and you will explore which motivation-archetype you are and through this phase if you need / are motivated by having goals or not. Then you can still start to design your life vision and how to live this way.